How I started on my Minimalist tendencies
It all began when I was 10. We were moving from Latvia to the U.S. for a year, and I had very limited space allocated to my belongings in the family luggage. So I had to decide which toys to bring and which toys not to bring. I used to hate cleaning my room as a kid, and my preferred method was to stuff a cabinet that stood in my room full of toys until nothing more fit. I think that when it was time to go I was just too lazy to sort through everything inside. My parents used to get together with their friends on a weekly basis, and all the kids would play in my room. So I let my childhood friends raid it. The joy that my possessions brought to my friends was contagious. They practically devoured that cabinet. Each week prior to departure I would stuff more and more things laying around the house in the cabinet in order to see their reaction on the weekend when they came over. I let them know that everything inside was up for grabs, and boy did they grab! I guess I got addicted to how it felt to give things away, because by the time it was time to go I was left with only one stuffed animal and a couple Barbies and accessories.
After working in the U.S. for a year my family had to fly to Moscow in order to interview for permanent residency with a U.S. Ambassador there. Assuming that the process should only take a few weeks (after all, my parents were already working in the U.S. at that time), we packed 1 small suitcase for the three of us. Well, in exchange for permanent residency, the Ambassador annulled our temporary Visas, so we were left stranded back in Latvia for an indefinite period of time while all the papers were processed. The indefinite period of time ended up being 2 years, in which time I learned that the items I packed for myself for 3 weeks were more than plenty to hold me over for 2 years! During that time our house sold, and we spent a few months bunking with relatives and then moving from place to place until it was time to go back to the U.S. Needless to say, there was no way to bring along loads and loads of stuff. I think that’s when I learned that it’s not the things you own or the place you live that matters, but rather family, being involved in causes you love, and spending time with friends.
Although we didn’t have a permanent home or a lot of possessions, I remember those two years as a one of the best times of my life. My family had nothing but each other at that point, so through that I developed a pretty close-knit relationship with my parents. I didn’t go to school for a year, which gave me a new appreciation for it once I got back to the U.S. My parents got involved with camps held for orphans and street children in Latvia, and I got to experience first hand what it was like to be involved in ministry. Because we’ve already spent a year in the U.S., I was also frequently asked to translate at camps and other church functions. During that time I made a lot of life-long friends and memories.
Since our return to the U.S., we’ve moved several more times, including a cross-country move from the East Coast to the West Coast. Since then I’ve also moved out of my parents place and switched several apartments. The house that we bought was my husband and mine 5th move since getting married. It was the 20th move of my life. Every move was accompanied by a massive decluttering session, so only the minimum was brought along. It’s amazing how much stuff makes its way into our homes even within a couple months! I’ve moved enough to know for sure that I don’t miss a single piece of what I’ve given or thrown away. But now I face a new challange of keeping a permanent residence clutter-free. Read about my battle with clutter here.